What Hi-Fi? Awards 2023: Sonos Arc misses out in an all-Atmos soundbar category

Dolby Atmos soundbar: Sonos Beam Gen 2
(Image credit: Sonos)

We’ve been inundated with new and exciting Dolby Atmos soundbars this year, which might make it seem rather odd that not only has this Awards category shrunk from four winners to three, but also that those three remaining winners have all won before.

So, the first talking point first – which previous winner has missed the cut this year? That would be the Sonos Arc.

Yes, this result was a surprise to us, too, what with the Sonos Arc having been such a dominant presence in the Dolby Atmos soundbar arena ever since its launch back in 2020, but it’s all down to Sony, whose HT-A7000 has dropped in price to a level that’s very uncomfortable for the Arc.

The Sony HT-A7000 has been the Product of the Year in this category since 2021, and now that it and the Sonos Arc are in the same price bracket, there can be only one victor. It’s a two soundbars enter, one soundbar leaves-type affair.

Our two other returning winners will be familiar to anyone with even a passing interest in soundbars. At the smaller and more affordable end, we have the Sonos Beam (Gen 2), which has had to face down competition this year from the likes of the LG USE6S, JBL Bar 300, Sony HT-A3000 and HT-S2000, to name just a few.

To put it bluntly, though, none of these new rivals came even close to dethroning the Sonos Beam, which is testament to its exceptional quality. It’s just as compelling a performance-per-pound proposition as it was when it launched – arguably more so.

At the other end of the spectrum is the huge and expensive Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Max, previously known only as the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar. This has been a winner since way back in 2019 and it’s just as awesome now. The Max is of course helped by a relative lack of new rivals, but each year it still needs to justify its monstrous girth and price tag, and each year it does just that. This is as close as a soundbar gets to being a genuine alternative to a proper surround sound system.

Which one of these three returning winners will be proclaimed the 2023 soundbar Product of the Year at the glitzy What Hi-Fi? Awards ceremony on 15th November? Tune in to whathifi.com to find out.


See every What Hi-Fi? Awards 2023 winner here

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And here is the complete list of the best soundbars you can buy right now

Tom Parsons

Tom Parsons has been writing about TV, AV and hi-fi products (not to mention plenty of other 'gadgets' and even cars) for over 15 years. He began his career as What Hi-Fi?'s Staff Writer and is now the TV and AV Editor. In between, he worked as Reviews Editor and then Deputy Editor at Stuff, and over the years has had his work featured in publications such as T3, The Telegraph and Louder. He's also appeared on BBC News, BBC World Service, BBC Radio 4 and Sky Swipe. In his spare time Tom is a runner and gamer.